Secrets of Willow Springs – Book 1

Author: Tracy Fredrychowski
Series: The Amish of Lawrence County

Publisher: The Tracer Group, LLC

When an English family’s dark secrets collide with the Amish, sweet and innocent Emma Byler is caught in the middle of two worlds.
For sixteen years, Jacob Byler kept his daughter Emma sheltered and protected in their Amish community. When a secret becomes too much for him to bear, it drives a wedge in their relationship and threatens to change Emma’s life forever.

When an unexpected relationship with Daniel Miller comes to light, will he be able to remind Emma of her faith and help her deal with the lies that surround her birth? Will the secret change her life forever, and will she be able to forgive as God instructs her to do?

Excerpt from Chapter 1

June 2017

Emma sat in the far corner of her parent’s porch protected from the rain and hidden from the watchful eye of her datt. Leaning her head against the back of the chair, she tried to remember when her datt started to act so strange. He told her again that morning that under no circumstances was she to go anywhere without him or her mamm.

Sitting back up in her chair, she petted Someday on his head and wrapped her arms around his neck and whispered. “I can always count on you to be glad to see me.”

Listening to the sound of the rain on the roof was just what she needed to calm her anxiety over staying out of her datt’s way.

It was just about as soothing as working in the garden. She loved the feel of the warm soil in her hands and enjoyed tending to the gardens around the farm. The purple and white pansies along the picket fence were in full bloom, and she smiled at how they looked as if they were welcoming the spring rain. Closing her eyes again, she leaned back and replayed the conversation she had had with her datt at breakfast.

Do you know what today is?”

“A canning day,” her mamm said as she put a plate of pancakes in the middle of the table. “We have three baskets of strawberries waiting for us on the back porch.”

“That too, but it’s June 17, and it’s just thirty more days until my birthday.”

She turned toward her datt. “I thought you might let me go to the market with the girls this morning.”

“Didn’t your mamm just say you were helping with strawberries?” “Ja, but I thought just this once you might let me go.”

“Well, you thought wrong.”

She knew better than to argue and just went back to her breakfast, feeling defeated again by his sharp tone. 

The sound of the sliding barn door startled her, and she opened her eyes and looked across the yard. Matthew, her bruder, was in the barn tending to a sick calf. He was standing in the doorway as if he was looking for a break in the rain to make it back to the house.

She leaned back and thought how rare it was to be enjoying such a long break from her Saturday chores. They had been making jam all morning, and the smell of strawberries was still thick in the air. They had just come upstairs from the basement kitchen when her datt came storming through the kitchen door. She hadn’t even gotten a chance to pour a glass of meadow tea before her mamm shooed her outside.

Stella pulled a chair out so Jacob could sit down. She glanced to make sure Emma had left the room and grabbed Jacob’s hand and started to rub it lovingly.

“What’s the matter?” she asked as she handed him a glass of tea. “I don’t understand how three orders got mixed up, the lumber

delivery delayed, and why Matthew has another sick calf.”

“Let Kathryn worry about the orders, and Matthew will figure out what the problem is in the barn. You need to quit letting these little things upset you so.”

He knew she was right, but it was getting harder and harder to control his anxiety. When silence fell between them, Stella looked into his eyes and saw the same fear she saw six months ago, when the letter and the newspaper article came from his schwester in Ohio.

“This has nothing to do with the orders, does it?”

He hung his head and started to rub the back of his neck with his free hand.

“I have a notion this has more to do with Emma’s birthday than anything else. When she mentioned her birthday this morning, I saw that panicked look in your eyes. I pray Gott will give us direction and show us what we need to do. He won’t let us down, Jacob. There’s nothing we can do to protect Emma other than putting our faith in the Lord. He gave her to us to protect, and we need to have faith that He’ll help her with the choices she soon needs to make.”

Jacob leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes, and said, “I know He’ll watch over her, but we’re running out of time. No matter how hard I try to keep her close, I think what I’m really doing is pushing her away. I promised Walter before he died, I’d tell her the truth when she turned sixteen.”

“Jacob, we knew this day would come, and I’m as worried as you are. But what good are we doing by forbidding her to leave the haus? When she turns sixteen and starts her rumshpringa, there’s nothing we can do but let her make her own choices.”

“What are you afraid of?”

“I’m afraid she won’t want to stay with us once she learns the truth.”